Each year, young children are injured or die in falls from unguarded windows, even from the first floor. These tragedies are preventable with properly installed and approved window guards, which are required in many residential buildings.
Window guards are metal or aluminum devices that are specifically designed to prevent children from falling, not to stop a burglar. All window guards must be approved by the NYC Department of Health and installed by your landlord, according to specific instructions. Window guards must be at least 15 inches tall, with horizontal bars spaced to measure no more than 4.5 inches, so that a 5-inch ball (i.e., the size of a baby's head) cannot pass through.
If your landlord refuses to install window guards, or if they are not properly installed, you can file a complaint online or by calling 311.
Who Should Have Window Guards
You must have window guards installed if you live in a building that has at least three apartments and a child 10 or younger lives in your apartment.
Guards should be in every window in the apartment, except windows leading to fire escapes. In buildings with fire escapes, the window guard must be left off one window in each ground-floor apartment so that the window can be used as an emergency exit.
If you live in a building with at least three apartments, you can request a window guard for any reason. If you do not have a young child who lives in your apartment, you may still want to have guards installed in case you ever have children visit.
Never leave a child alone in a room where there are open windows that do not have window guards. If window guards are not installed, keep windows closed and make sure children cannot climb up to them.
If you want window guards for any reason, you should request them in writing. Your landlord is required to install requested guards.
How to Get Window Guards
Your building's owner or superintendent must:
Each year between January 1 and January 15, your building owner must give you an Annual Notice form (PDF) to complete indicating whether or not children 10 or younger live in the apartment, or if you want window guards for any reason. You must return the form to your landlord by February 15. You can also request window guards in writing at any time.
Building owners may charge tenants for the installation and cost of window guards in their apartments, but they may not charge for window guards in public areas. If you move out before paying for window guards in full, you must pay the balance immediately. Your building owner may deduct the remaining unpaid portion from your security deposit.
If you move into an an apartment that already has window guards, you cannot be charged for them. If the landlord chooses to replace the window guards due to renovation or window replacement, you cannot be charged for the new guards.
For rent stabilized or controlled apartments, landlords may collect a temporary surcharge for window guards, but the maximum amount may not exceed $10 per guard. Tenants may choose to pay all at once or over a period of one to three years.
Any charge for window guards may not become a part of the base rent for the apartment.
Tenants do not have to pay for window guards, and they can be reimbursed if they have already paid for them, if they:
Recipients of SSI or Section 209 subsidies may contact their Social Services District Offices with an itemized bill from their building owner following the window guard installation.
For more information about window guard costs: